Remploy workers strike in protest at ‘hard-hearted’ government throwing them on the dole

19 Jul

Remploy protestRemploy workers faced with the dole queue are on strike today in protest at the actions of “a hard-hearted government hell bent on throwing them on the dole queue.”

Workers at the 54 factories – 27 of which face the axe – will carry on the fight to save their jobs with a 24-hour strike, spurred on by more than 7,500 individual messages of support. Each factory will receive a giant card with a selection of messages by tomorrow.

Last week, the government announced that the 27 factories will close by the end of the year throwing about 1,700 disabled workers out-of-work. A further nine factories face an uncertain future. The remaining 18 sites are due to close or be sold-off next year.

Unite called on the Westminster government to follow the example of the Welsh government which has pledged £2.4 million for employers who give jobs to Remploy workers when the factories in Wales close.

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector Sally Kosky said: “We are expecting the vast majority of the workforce across the 54 factories to strike tomorrow.

“They are rightly angry that they face a bleak future on the dole, as it is always more difficult for those with disabilities to obtain employment.

“Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith should take a lesson from the Cardiff government which has shown compassion and practical financial help to keep Remploy workers in jobs for at least four years.”

Remploy workers will strike again next Thursday (26 July) for 24-hours.

GMB national secretary Phil Davies said: “Iain Duncan Smith is systematically destroying lives by his hard-hearted actions. We will continue our campaign by all means at our disposal to reverse this pernicious decision.”

It is understood that an offer from the private sector to take over the Wrexham factory was turned down without consideration by the government – Unite said that this demonstrated that ministers were “hell bent on dismantling the 67-year history of Remploy for purely ideological reasons.”

The workers voted to strike because they believe the proposed closure negotiations were ‘a sham’; in protest at the intention to make disabled people compulsorily redundant for the first time at Remploy; and that the redundancy pay will be less than previous voluntary redundancies.

Unite and the GMB unions have been campaigning to keep the Remploy factories open as viable businesses and cite the recent upbeat assessment of Remploy’s future prospects from Alan Hill, Managing Director, Remploy Enterprise Businesses who wrote that: “We have grown our sales by 12.2 per cent, a fantastic achievement.”

The closure of the Remploy factories is a callous and self-defeating move by Iain Duncan-Smith. At a time when the jobs market is already hugely competitive, he is choosing to sack 1,700 people who will arguably find it even more difficult to find employment.

Please show your support for Remploy workers here.

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